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Ok so it's 2008 and what we have here is the tyrants of German Black Metal Absurd releasing a very impressive collection of re-recordings of some of their best cuts from the crypt coinciding with their 15 year anniversary.
The sound quality here is very impressive, high fidelity, and easily makes this the best sounding Absurd release to date. However, I would like to say that whenever a band goes back and re-records classic songs with new quality they run the risk of draining the atmospheric charm of the original. Absurd have given some of those old classic songs a new lease of life that's exciting, but as a long time fan I can't help but prefer certain songs in their original form.
Say for example i'm listening to the new version of the song Werwolf (a bona-fide Absurd anthem) and i'm waiting for this particular part in the verse towards the end of the song where in the original, vocalist Dark Mark Doom bellowed out this extremely shrill and bloodthirsty scream that jumped right out of nowhere that peaked off the audiometer and freaked you out. Here, with this new recoding you don't get that. You still get an equally high quality scream in about the same place but it's more in balance with the rest of the vocals. What this says to me is that while the new version sounds technically a zillion times better than the original and is an absolute pleasure to listen to, I can't help but miss the raw ultraviolent feel of the original. In general, the vocals on Der Fünfzehnjährige Krieg are a bit of a progression for Absurd in that the cleanly sung parts are nicer sounding than in the past and seem to be more in tune with the music than before. It's quite a different experience for me as a long time fan of Absurd to suddenly hear singing that's in key and everything in it's right place.
Out of all of the 14 re-recorded songs offered here, i'd say that I only prefer 2 of the originals to the new versions, and all the rest are totally relevant and absolutely killer. Take for example the song "Last Breath". That song to me looking back, had enormous potential but has never sounded better and more powerful than now. Asburd's patented marching and singing power chord voicings somehow transfer so much better with a nice clear, loud, and powerful production.
Not to say that this isn't still raw black metal because it most certainly is, at least in my book. For example, I love the way the blast beat sections just meld together with the treble of the hi-hat perfectly, still creating a raw blitzkrieg of sound and violence. And the vocals of Wolf are absolutely ferocious as ever (perhaps even more so now), yet at the same time they utterly majestic during the cleanly sung parts, finally perfecting this style trade-off IMO.
Whether or not other long-time Absurd fans enjoy hearing this as much as I did and do remains to be seen. I guess it all depends on whether or not your favorite tracks were chosen to be redone and if you like the new versions more than the originals; I kind of miss hearing a new version of "Death From The Forest" or "Verlassen" but that's just me and that's ok, I still of course have the originals. However, even if you don't prefer these new versions, it's still an interesting listen for the long-time fan and also quite an eye opener for the first timer as well. It's also a plus that there are 3 brand new tracks unheard tracks of unheard material (one being a coversong) offered here so it's easily worth checking out for any fan of Absurd who's already heard this material before now.
If you've only heard about Absurd before but never heard them, then starting at this release would make you believe that these guys are quite professional and also quite catchy black metal. I recommend Absurd and this album in particular if you have a hammerheart and an iron fist.